Monday, September 17, 2012

The Unlimited Evil of Fascism

In a rare move for me on this blog, today I'm posting a link to this brilliant post from Mark Shea. It is basically an e-mail from one of his readers, but it nails the whole question of our time right on the head.

He writes:

One critical error people make in contemplating fascism is to believe that fascism is about ideas, dogmas, or programmatic solutions to human problems. Fascism is none of those things. First and above all, fascism is a belief in the state as the supreme human achievement. Or, as the Party recently said, the state is the only thing we all belong to. This gives the fascist state a flexibility unknown to most totalitarian movements, notably socialism, which are bound by dogmatic commitments and the corresponding need to pretend that the dogmas are productive.

Put another way, the magical thinking of socialism is like fan fiction — it’s limited by a background story. So Pope John Paul II, when he was a cardinal in socialist Poland, could upbraid the socialist utopia for failing in its constitutional promise to respect religion. In contrast, the magical thinking of fascism is unlimited, which makes fascism a much more potent and insidious form of evil...

Go and read the rest, and maybe even pass it along - this is precisely what we are up against increasingly in our world.


  1. It is also noteworthy to remind those doubters of 'the times we live in', that if you compare this past decade with the 1940's 50's, you may tire quickly comparing; why? - because the message is more subtle, the methods have evolved, and the masses are more 'sponge-like'. A frog will be killed eventually when put into tepid water and the temperature slowly increases. Bravo Marc Shea, and to you Fr. for passing this fantastic viewpoint to us.

    1. It's only frogs with their brains removed that react as such ( ). There's an apt comparison there if I could only think of one. Is it getting hot in here?

  2. The Catholic Church needs to purge itself of its fascist affections. The late Cardinal Ambrozic referred to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco as “a conservative Roman Catholic and not a bad fellow.” And Cardinal Carter before him reportedly converted Conrad Black with his dinner conversation talk praising Franco as the person that saved Europe from communism.

    1. Rationalist, I have tried to figure out a response to this, but I am stymied. As far as I can figure out, because some Catholics somewhere have (reportedly) said something nice about some fascist somewhere... ummm, I guess I shouldn't have posted this? Is that your argument? Really? Is that really 'rational'? Seriously, can you try to address what I've written rather than use the famous 'shut up, he explained' defense?

    2. I'm not talking some Catholics and I would certainly not say all or most Catholics but certainly in these two noted Catholics the lure of fascism was certainly there. In the same way as Pope John Paul II could speak out against communist (not socialist) Poland, it's important, IMO, for those in the Catholic Church to speak out against fascism, as many in the Church have flirted with that totalitarians for pragmatic or ideological reasons.

  3. Father Denis,
    I can see nothing at all helpful in fascist argument... and it is probably better for us both if I do not argue validity... Because I think that these kinds of arguments just do not help us much.
    I see the role of church in religion as one who teaches us how to see- not what to see. We need to learn to see each other and the world with the eyes of love.
    If we haven't been taught how to develop virtue- how to see the world with love- then we will only see it calculatively or manipulatively= how we can can gain leverage or advantage. This kind of operating system will never get you something new or whole. The best it can do is produce liberals or conservatives... And we all know how well that is working out. The more that we can see with the eyes of love, the more present we can be in the gray zone or the paradox..and the easier it becomes to move beyond the partisan strategies..
    Much religion wastes far too much time trying to seperate itself from- and creates purity codes against- what is perceived as secular, bad, heretical or wrong. Jesus had no patience with such immature or exclusionary religion. Idolatry has been called the only real and consistent sin of the old testament. Idolatry- whenever we try to make something God that is not God, or whenever we try and make the means into an end.
    Nothing is secular or pagan or fascist- unless it is superfical. Whenever we are willing to go into the depth of anything in this life, we discover there the scared and the holy. Only the development of virtue- the ability to see with the eyes of love will allow you to get your ego out of the way and permit God to get in. If you get this, then you will know yourself. Your politics will change, your economics will change, your sexism will change. Authentic religion is the most radical form of political correction there is.

    1. I agree fully with you about the spiritual and religous roots and solutions of all social and human problems, and indeed the centrality of love and the central problem of self-interest...well, I've blogged mightily about all the above, and I know you've read all that.
      But I disagree with you that fascism is a meaningless or unhelpful world. I think it has a very specific, definite meaning, and the reason I posted that link to Shea is that it put that meaning in the clearest terms I've seen.
      Fascism is the idolatry of the state over all other things. And it is my honest belief that fascism is indeed on the rise in America, under Barack Obama, and in many other countries, and is well along in Canada, too.
      I realize that is a controversial statement. But i believe it, and I do need to say it, as it is a profoundly dangerous situation.
      Surely the Church (represented by moi!) is supposed to decry authoritarian regimes as they arise. Isn't that one of the great failures of the Church in Latin America in the 70s? Or, yes, Germany in the 30s? Are we not gravely deficient in our prophetic charism if we fail to do so?
      I know you disagree with my assessment, and I respect that, but if you can look at it from my point of view, wouldn't it be irresponsible of me, with my little social media platform, to say nothing in the face of emerging tyranny?

  4. If you are going to talk about the fall of the sparrow you can't pick and choose who is going to be the sparrow.... It is everybody.
    -Madeleine L'Engle


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